From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
“A mnemonic (the first “m” is silent), or mnemonic device, is any learning technique that aids information retention. Mnemonics aim to translate information into a form that the brain can retain better than its original form. In fact, ‘Memory Needs Every Method Of Nurturing Its Capacity’ is a mnemonic for how to spell mnemonic.”
In other words:
by Michael Murry
Many words can make a mess
For meaning neither more nor less,
But some arrangements stick around
Because the brain remembers sound.
So if I had to make a choice
Between the letter and the voice
I’d choose to sing a nonsense song
Instead of meaning something wrong;
For in my little slice of life
I’ve witnessed mostly stupid strife
Perpetuated by the frauds
Who claim they speak for unseen gawds.
And I have learned to discount words
As mostly smelly little turds
Whose meaning no one seems to know
Except that from them corpses grow,
Attracting hordes of thirsty flies
Who drink their fill from crying eyes
While “meaning” pours from moving lips
And falsehood-scribbling finger tips.
So, yes, I’ve heard both long and short,
And read much, too, of either sort.
But still, when words have had their say
It takes a tune to make them stay.
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2010
Which reminds me of my freshman year in high school when Mr Kennedy, our physical science teacher came into the classroom one day and declared: “All memory is based on two principles: association and repetition. You are going to prove this to yourselves today by memorizing the entire Periodic Table of the Elements.” We did, too. Mr Kennedy would tell one student an absolutely awful pun on the name of a chemical element and the class would groan in collective embarrassment (emotional reinforcement). For example: “I coach track and field, and I feel so sorry when I see those poor boys running around with lead in their pants. Get it? PB – lead” (association). Then Mr. Kennedy would have the student repeat the chemical symbol and its name and then repeat all the elements and their names which other students had recited previously (additional repetition). Then he would go on to the next student: “I just overheard a boy making a date with his girlfriend. He said ‘I’ll see you at the Copper Penny restaurant tonight.’ Get it? C U – Copper.” And so on. Around and around the room we went. Associating. Emoting. Repeating. Remembering. I don’t think I ever witnessed a better illustration of effective teaching in my entire life.
Poetry — at least metrical verse — possesses a mnemonic power and it matters very much what sounds and rhythms will best combine, not only to reinforce the intellectual and emotional meaning of the words, but also make that meaning “memorable.” Poetry may “just happen” to the inspired creative genius, but a plodding dullard like myself has to make it happen through continual research into the technical elements of poetry as well as emulation of good examples
But before we can communicate effectively, whether in prose or poetry, we have to think critically about what we wish to communicate. And before we can think critically – as George Orwell pointed out in his dystopian novel, 1984 – we must first possess an accurate memory of what actually happened in the past. Otherwise, we have no means of determining whether our present condition represents a life of improved, as opposed to deteriorating, possibilities. Unfortunately for us living in the present historical moment, the corporate totalitarian state does not want the individual citizen to develop his or her critical faculties nor to communicate their “subversive” ideas effectively to others. Hence the corporate totalitarian state attempts to destroy individual and collective memory, mostly by continuously rewriting the past so that it never provides a basis of comparison with the present. As Orwell wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”
Or in another manner of speaking, consider:
The Good Ship Memory Hole
One dark and stormy night this tepid tale
Began, and waking from a dream, it ended.
Unmoored, the uncrewed Fantasy set sail
On twilight seas where day and nighttime blended.
The empty sky complained to no avail
About the disbelief it had suspended.
The tide went out and with it went the boat
Adrift and rudderless, no one commanding.
The fog rolled in and swallowed in its throat
The strangled cry of something dim demanding
To know the reason why the fishes gloat
To see a thing beneath their understanding.
The wind, that vagrant quantity, died down,
And then arose to drive the ship before it.
No Ahab paced the deck to rage and frown.
No fickle fate consented to abhor it:
That nightmare stream in which the dreamers drown;
The mind awaiting waking to restore it.
The whales and dolphins swam along beside.
The albatrosses soared, the gulls they glided.
The barnacles hung on to bum a ride.
The turtles temporized, their time they bided,
Until the seals would cease them to deride;
Till someone, somewhere, sane, this scene decided.
The ocean rudely rolled, the eyes they crossed,
As stomachs down below grew sour and trembled.
The passengers turned pale; their lunch they lost;
And wondered why they ever had assembled
To voyage to the void at such a cost —
And who the ticket-selling fraud resembled.
No Ishmael survived the trip who knows
Why thought reflected off the waves and scattered,
Absorbed into the swirling ebbs and flows
That left the crazy craft careened and battered
Upon Amnesia reef where nothing grows
Except forgetfulness of things that mattered.
Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2009